Health Minister Roger Cook today announced a $10 million boost, including more paid paramedics in nine regional locations, to further strengthen country ambulances and provide better on-the-ground support for local volunteers.
Recruitment is already underway for 25 additional paramedics to expand the current workforce and support local volunteers.
Of the 25 additional paramedics, three will be employed in a central pool supporting country WA’s existing Community Paramedic workforce to take leave while being backfilled to ensure service continuity for ambulance services and volunteer support.
Five new paramedics will be located in Kalgoorlie and five in Bunbury with the balance being allocated across Laverton, Meekatharra, Karratha, Newman, Merredin and Narrogin.
The $10 million investment will also be used to develop new solutions to improve how non-urgent patients are transferred between hospitals, to free up country paramedics and volunteers for emergency call-outs.
Additionally, improved data-sharing and the introduction of new technologies will help maximise the effectiveness of every ambulance crew on the road.
Today’s announcement is the next stage in the implementation of WA’s first-ever Country Ambulance Strategy, released in November 2019, after the most extensive community consultation ever undertaken on country ambulance services.
A three-month consultation phase and 120 community workshops saw almost 1,000 submissions received from community members, health providers and stakeholders.
Announced in October 2020, the first stage of investment into country ambulance services included $2 million for paid paramedics in the Kimberley and $1.6 million for six new ambulances across that region.
As stated by Health Minister Roger Cook:
“Country ambulance volunteers are the lifeblood of our regional communities and essential to delivering frontline health services.
“The community asked us to better support them in this area and I’m pleased we are able – as a first step – to deliver 25 additional paramedics into locations that we know, via the best available data-mapping, will bring the most significant benefits.
“This is in addition to the 18 paramedics the McGowan Government is committed to deploying throughout regional WA to support existing volunteer services.
“Through placing these paramedics in strategic locations – coupled with the introduction of new models of care – we hope to be able to extend some current services beyond town borders and free up volunteers and paramedics for emergency call-outs.
“I’m proud that WA Country Health Service and St John WA are working collaboratively to make the recommendations of the Country Ambulance Strategy happen.
“Additional paid paramedics, along with getting smarter about planned patient transfers, gives more support to our valued volunteers and paramedics and strengthens ambulance services in regional WA.”